After Student-Athlete's Death, University of Dayton Holds Town Hall to Raise Mental Health Awareness

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The University of Dayton held a town hall this week to bring attention to mental health issues and spotlight resources available for those who are struggling. 

According to the local NBC affiliate, the goal of the meeting was to break down the stigma around mental health, and remind people to simply ask how others are doing. The event was also held in honor of Jayda Grant, the daughter of US men's basketball coach Anthony Grant, who died in 2022 by suicide after struggling with mental health issues. Jayda was a student-athlete on the track and field team. 

The parents of Tyler Hilinski, a quarterback for Washington State who died by suicide in 2018, were on hand to share their story. 

“If you see that they’re not sleeping enough, that they’re sleeping too much, that they’re missing practice or missing class, if there’s a change in the way that they’re acting, ask them, ask them why,” said Kym Hilinski, Tyler’s mother.

Hilinski's Hope is a non-profit foundation promoting education of mental health and wellness for student-athletes. 

“At least once a week. Teammates find two guys, right, that you can check on and ask them how they’re doing right and really listen to their answer,” Hilinski said.

The town hall also provided resources for those currently looking for help with mental health issues. 

“Really it typically takes about ten years for somebody to actually seek treatment. And we want to lower that number significantly. So we have a ton of resources here at the arena tonight. So people leave here knowing where to go, if they need support,” said Colleen Oakes, coalition manager, Montgomery County Prevention Coalition.

UD staff were encouraged by the turnout for the event. 

“You know, we think it’s important to be more than sports, more than education. We’re part of the community and we need to do our part. And so that’s how we look at it. As a catholic marinist school to be out in the community. We ask a lot of the community. So we need to give a lot back. And I think this is just one of those events that we’re able to do that,” said Neil Sullivan, vice president and director of athletics at UD.

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